It is important to honour those who have fallen and served in past and present wars. The Royal Canadian Legion Norwood Branch #178 on the corner of 111 Avenue and 82 Street will do just that beginning at 10 am on Nov. 11. 

Heavy in everyone’s hearts will also be the war in Ukraine. Innocent lives are constantly being taken all over Ukraine, though many people have fled. Yet the most heroic efforts by Ukrainians are happening where they are fighting back.

Ukraine is resilient. During the First World War, Ukrainians saw their country divided when the land was split between the Hungarians and the Russians. Then after the First World War was the Holodomor Genocide in Ukraine, where an estimated 3.9 million Ukrainians (and maybe more) died from famine. In the Second World War, Germany occupied most of Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv. This was the beginning of Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, when the Red Army took back the land from Nazi Germany. Since The Second World War and the displacement of many Ukrainians who abandoned the country to live in Crimea, Russia has been assertive in claiming Crimea as part of their country.

In February 2014, Russia used deadly force and invaded Ukraine. The Russo-Ukrainian War continues today. With many refugees, including some who have fled all the way to Canada and even to here in Edmonton, another displacement continues as the thought of no more Ukraine as a country lingers in the minds of those who call it home.

Krystina Kovalchuk came to our city in March, along with 249 other refugees fleeing Ukraine. She now resides in Spruce Avenue, is taking courses online while improving her English, and hoping to become a Canadian citizen. However, she also worries about her home in Ukraine and family who have made it to Romania and who want to join her here in Canada.

She recalls her experience in leaving Moldova.

“[The] feeling was eerie as we waited at [the] train station to get out of Moldova. [I] heard [a] crying baby and a cough, but nothing else than a bomb alarm that you call [a] siren. Sometimes I wanted to panic and scream and just cry but I was too scared, as [were the] others. I still feel eerie, as it does not feel real sometimes but it very much is.” 

Kovalchuk was studying in Tiraspol State University while her mom, dad, sister, and brothers were back in Lutsk. She was separated from them because she was going to school and has not seen any of them since January of 2022, when she went home for Rizdvo (Christmas).

When asked what Remembrance Day means to her, especially with the Russo-Ukrainian war, Kovalchuk smiles and tells me it is like any other day.

“I am happy to be free and very safe, but I pray for everyone [at] home fighting and everyone who is lost and does not have a home. I will remember what Canadian soldiers have fought for to make this country great. I will also remember my country’s past and today that we too can have peace.”